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How long did it take you to get comfortable with a five?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Busker, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    After a long time of playing a four?

    I just got this five string. I'm playing it, but I have to think about that low B being there practically every second, or else I'll hit the wrong string. Sometimes I'm hitting the wrong string because I'm thinking about it so much. :p Plus, its a 35 inch scale rather than the 34 I'm used to, but the low B is going to be the bigger issue I think.

    Also, if I put most of my efforts into getting up to speed on the five, will my four string become obsolete to me? I was doing OK with a four, and truthfully, I'm just trying to see if the five is for me or not.
  2. It's a bit like going overseas and having to drive on the other side of the road, but a lot less messy if you make a mistake :D

    I found it didn't take me very long to get used to having 5 strings, but it took a lot longer to actually taking advantage of them. Now I find it quite strange to have to back to a 4 (which I do reasonably often).

    The nicest thing I find is that you can do 2 octave scales without having to shift position. That was the first thing I started taking advantage of. Then I started to really use the low notes in songs and it was great - you can pretty much do everything a keyboard can do. I love dropping in a great fat low C or B at the end of a tune to finish it off, and feeling the floor shake ;-)
  3. Traver


    Sep 25, 2007
    Well, I can't say about going from 4 to 5, but I went from 4 to 6 after about a year of playing 4-string, and it took me around a week before I was completely comfortable with it.
    As for going back to a 4-string, I don't really have much trouble, although it does seem a bit different and requires a little bit of adjustment, but that's mainly because my 4-string has a lot higher action and bigger string spacing than my 6-string, so they feel different. I've never had any issues with adjusting my "thinking" to 4 strings, though (i.e. I never mistake the E-string on a 4-string for a B-string).

    Personally, I'd say go for the 5-string. Once you get used to it, you'll never need a 4-string again, because a 5-string can act as a 4-string, while a 4-string can't act as a 5-string. That's my opinion, anyway.
  4. I love 5 strings my only issue at the moment is I fear im not using the B often enough except for a thumb rest :(

    I started on a 5 but can't really comment, but im buying a 4 string tomorrow!

    that said there's nothing like using the low B when its needed ;) and as has been said, great way to get more notes without jumping around the fretboard all the time...
  5. Jonyak


    Oct 2, 2007
    Ottawa, Ont
    I just recently went from playing 4 strings for 15 years.. to a my first five, and it took me all of an hour to be totaly comfortable with it.

    now I go back to my fours and they feel weird. haha.
  6. myrockinbass


    Jun 10, 2005
    A Problem I've noticed is sometimes when I switched back to 4 string, I'm still thinking my thumb is resting on a low B. Nothing like starting a song which starts in the key of C by coming in on a nice boomy G.
  7. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Houma, LA
    It took me about a week to make the switch.
  8. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Went from 4 to 6, and was comfortable within a few weeks, if I recall. This was back in the mid-90s...
  9. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    I did a show the same day.
    I did a lot of visualization in my head few days before the gig.

  10. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    For me it was a few weeks. I found that the best way to learn was to use that B alot. I see guys playing a 5 starting out going from 4s using the B as a thumbrest..dont! Use it!

    Start off with songs out of E on the B string to run alot of 1,4,5 type of songs just to get used to playing it. I just used it along with transposing songs i knew and added the B string. I played both 5s and 4s when i played in my rock bands switching on and off for downtuned stuff. It will come quick you will see.
  11. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Didn't take me long...I don't use the low notes as much as I could or would like too, but if for nothing else than the tighter string spacing I love it. Once you get used to the spacing and reading tabs/looking at the guitarist and always deleting a line/string you will never want to go back.

    Also even though its a 35 scale and you have to stretch a bit, you can always play a low E on the 5th fret of the B and then it would be like playing on something with a much shorter scale.

    4 is strange now...I haven't played one in years (cause my 4 was my first bass and is a piece of crap compared to my GT-5). When I do pick up the 4 I miss strings and loose a lot of speed, but I can slap much better...I'm considering pickup up a classic P just for slap. Although that's the cowards way out...I really just need to refine my technique to the point where I can slap on my 5.
  12. ()smoke()


    Feb 25, 2006
    :)it didn't take me nearly as long as i expected to comfortable enough to gig with my 5, which is also a 35" scale...what i'm doing now is reworking the basslines that were written on a 4 so take advantage of what the 5 has to offer--i have to concentrate, but not too much, as pointed out, to the point where i psych myself out and lose the groove, ha
  13. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    Thanks all.

    One of my local music stores have DR Lowriders (stainless) 5 string set. I guess I'll get these, as they get good reviews. Not that the strings on it are worn out or sound bad, but I want to see if the Lowriders sound way better, particularly on the low B.

    The bass is a 2001 Yamaha TRB-5II. I have read that some don't care for the pickups and preamp in these, but I think its OK, so far.
  14. ()smoke()


    Feb 25, 2006

    i haven't used lo-rider B strings, but i use them exclusively on my 4s...the strings are stiffer, with a hexagonal core...i like both the nickel and ss versions
  15. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    About a month. Was hard to get used to thinking of the "D" string as being in the middle. :confused:
    Putting down my four string for a week and using the 5er exclusively sealed the deal :bassist:
    but then, I'm kind of slow :atoz:
  16. Just sit down and practice with it for a while. Before you know it, you'll know that big old string is the B and not the E.

    I found playing 4 string after 5 was not as confusing as vice-versa. I think your 'old mind' will always remember the 4 string configuration sort of like riding a bike.

    As for not taking advantage of the extended range or only using the B as a thumb rest; The only reason for that is not thinking. Playing a 5'er as if it were a 4 is a waste. Use that B to get access to two octaves in one position. Remember that you have those ultra beefy Eb, D, Db, C and of course B notes available to you to make the bottom end of your tunes really fat and rich.

    I personally love it when we're playing a tune that has an E chord in a key location. Hitting that E at the 5th fret on the B and diving it into the sub-basement sounds so killer! Sliding up from the sub-basement sounds great too! The E string only buys you so much sub-frequency lushness while that B string will really do the trick!

  17. Blake Bass

    Blake Bass Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    Montgomery, Texas
    I started playing 5 back in 1992. I never felt completely comfortable with it until I decided to play it exclusively. Once I made the commitment I never went back to the 4and I haven't played a gig on 4 string since around 1993.
  18. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    it might have taken me a few hours at most to get used to the 5. but when i restrung it with a high c it took about a week for me to quit going to the WRONG note.
    & i had a gig that i definitly played some low 5ths instead of the root that week.
  19. manutabora


    Aug 14, 2007
    Iowa City, IA

    You mean the "A" string being in the middle:confused:

    To the original poster, I think if you practice scales using the full range of your instrument, including the B string, you will get used to it very quickly. Or not, just give it a try :D
  20. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    Ten seconds.

    That is me though. Before I ever played a bass with more than four strings I used to laugh at people that claimed playing what we commonly call "extended range" ie. 5, 6 and more strings was harder. I just picked them up and played.

    If you have your technique together and know what you are doing there should be very little transition time at all. On the other hand if your technique isn't very sound you should probably spend a little more time with the bass you have before you try playing more strings than you are comfortable with.

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